Straight outta Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is known for gender and ethnic diversity. It’s the place where ideas are shared and brought to life. The LGBT community is celebrated. There’s no shame in being different, unless you’re a political conservative. In California, especially the Bay Area, it’s much safer to be a liberal. And yet, there are some tech leaders who are standing up for the Republican party.
Do you know Peter Thiel?
Peter Thiel is a tech mogul, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist who also happens to be one of California’s delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention. Thiel has come out in support of Trump, and he’s made no secret of his support for Republican causes. In 2012, Thiel backed Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan on the presidential ticket, and he’s come out in support of other prominent Republicans. Thiel is one of the co-founders of PayPal, and he was an early investor in Facebook.
A Republican in Silicon Valley?
The tech industry is considered to be highly liberal. According to Crowdpac, in the 2016 Presidential Campaign, the tech industry has donated $4.6 million to Bernie Sanders, $2.6 million to Hillary Clinton, and only $19K to Donald Trump. It’s overwhelmingly pro-Democratic, which makes it even more surprising that Thiel is so outspoken in his support of Republican candidates.
Thiel is not the only Republican in tech, but he is one of the most prominent. In 2013, a group of conservatives came together and founded the Lincoln Initiative to bring those Republicans together in the tech industry. The Lincoln Initiative operates bases in San Francisco, Austin, Washington D.C., and New York City.
In many circles, it’s assumed that everyone in tech has the same views. I suspect many conservatives don’t want to rock the boat. Once you open the door to debate about politics, things can get ugly fast. In one article, it was suggested that having conservative views could cost a person a job or partnership. Is that really how things work? Political discrimination is completely legal, but is it right?
Can’t we all just get along?
I understand what it’s like to have to hide your political agenda. It feels unauthentic and wrong. Personally, I hate talking politics when I know it might get heated. I enjoy talking about government and party lines when I know I’m actually going to learn something and be able to express my views without being bullied or intimidated.
I know, we aren’t ever going to agree on everything, but I wonder if we can just agree that each person has a right to support the party they believe in. It takes both parties to have balance in government and in business. If the tech industry supports diversity, they have to support ideological diversity. When we talk about our differences in a communicative environment, we learn from each other.